Warfare refers to the conduct of conflict between opponents, and usually involves escalation of aggression from the proverbial "war of words" between politicians and diplomats to full-scale armed conflicts, waged until one side accepts defeat or peace terms are agreed on.
Warfare between groups, and military organisations requires a degree of planning and application of military strategy to be conducted effectively in reaching their stated or assumed objectives and goals.
Warfare by other means
A commitment of any given society to a conflict invariably involves methods of warfare that stop short of those requiring direct armed confrontations, but which nevertheless inflict damage to the opponent society by affecting its motivation to resist, or its standard of living. Usually this is exhibited by affecting the economy of the opponent, one example from the 20th century being the imposition of economic sanctions, or the effect on the morale of the opponent by commitment of the society as a whole to the conflict.
Warfare is displaying different types of war acts.
Military operations marked by a specific characteristic
One way to categorize warfare is by differentiation between conventional versus unconventional, where conventional warfare involves well-identified, armed forces fighting one another in a relatively open and straightforward way without weapons of mass destruction. "Unconventional" refers to other types of war which can involve raiding, guerrilla, insurgency, and terrorist tactics or alternatively can include nuclear, chemical, biological warfare or using propaganda with pressure groups to invoke certain feelings much like August Keim did in Wilhelmine Germany.
All of these categories usually fall into one of two broader categories: High intensity and low intensity warfare. High intensity warfare is between two superpowers or large countries. Low intensity warfare involves counterinsurgency, guerilla warfare and specialized types of troops fighting revolutionaries.
Environment as a factor
The environment, and particularly the prevailing terrain and climatic conditions in the area of operations, have always influenced the use of armed forces, including the doctrines, weapon and logistic technologies employed.
Terrain-based warfare factors
Largely related to the geographic location the following types of warfare refer to special consideration of combat in conditions other than those of a temperate climate of European regions.
Human-based warfare factors
Some combat operations are influenced by the effect of human actions on the environment, in either modifying it, or affecting the normal functioning of the enemy troops under combat conditions.
Technology-based warfare factors
As a result of advances in technologies, armed forces have been able to conduct combat by enhancing basic abilities of human participants using technology as a combat multiplier to the basic combat value of an individual combatant. All of the types of warfare below are conducted in environments completely, and are only possible due to use of technology. All are used to increase the tempo, the speed or pace of combat.
- Mobile warfare
- Naval warfare
- Sub-aquatic warfare
- Air warfare
- Electronic warfare
- Cyber warfare
- Space warfare
Historical periods of warfare
Historians have found it useful to differentiate between distinct periods of warfare in history, often as a result of recorded dramatic changes in the conduct of combat due to the influence of technology or changes in the societies that waged wars. Because European technology has dominated warfare since the end of the Renaissance, the periodisation has been largely Eurocentric and technology-oriented.
- Prehistoric warfare - largely speculative unrecorded period
- Ancient warfare - earliest record of human conflicts
- Medieval warfare - first organised warfare in Europe
- Gunpowder warfare - the employment of explosive weaponry
- Industrial warfare - the coupling of new methods of production with support of military operations
- Modern warfare - the increased competition by the militaries in technological sophistication, particularly since the Second World War
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- p.30, Dunnigan
- Dunnigan, James F., How to make war: A comprehensive guide to modern warfare, Arms & Armour Press, Melbourne, 1982 ISBN 0853685398
- Barzilai, Gad. Wars, Internal Conflicts and Political Order. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.